Are law firms afraid to empower their lawyers?

Brian Watkins who handles social media for Adobe commented on Twitter this past week, “Social media policies should do two things. 1. Protect the organization and 2. Empower employees.” It occurs to me that law firms are all about protection- it is the empowerment they have a hard time with.

“If our lawyers use LinkedIN, don’t we run the risk of head-hunters hiring away our best people?” I was recently asked.

The individual brings up a valid concern- greater exposure means a greater risk of employees being hired away. So how do firms increase visibility to bring in more business without increasing visibility that could lead to competitors sniping away their best and brightest? Read more

Are Lawyers Less Likely to be Happy?

“Are all lawyers so cynical?”

“No, there are a lot of really happy lawyers,” I explained to my wife.

“It just seems that so many of the practicing lawyers you interact with online aren’t especially happy.”

We joke about this all the time, but is there truth to it?  This past week I had the chance to speak to a group of attorneys and legal professionals in Washington D.C. at “The Case for Social Media” and because I was the second to last speaker of the day I tried to lighten things up by playing this video: Read more

What if your clients don’t use Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIN?

This last week I was asked this question on Twitter:

How can I use social media in an area that is relatively small and many clients don’t use Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin?

Good question, one I hear often- so I thought I would write a quick response.

The easy answer is, if your market is small and composed mostly of late adopters to social media, than spend your time and energy somewhere else. Even for the practice areas that have high social media usage – using social media alone doesn’t make much sense unless it is combined with traditional offline networking. You have to go where the people are, if they aren’t in social networks- than it may be a waste of time. Read more

Tactics- The Enemy of Good Social Strategy

Strategy, a word of military origin, refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. In military usage strategy is distinct from tactics, which are concerned with the conduct of an engagement, while strategy is concerned with how different engagements are linked. How a battle is fought is a matter of tactics: the terms and conditions that it is fought on and whether it should be fought at all is a matter of strategy. . .

-Wikipedia definition of strategy

I’m a big fan of history and military history is especially interesting to me.  The stories that are most perplexing to me are the stories where smaller armies defeat larger better equipped ones.  Great military leaders like Alexander the Great, Attilla the Hun and Napoleon were able to win battles where they were outnumbered on a regular basis.  How did they do it?

Strategy.

Most social media advice is very light on strategy.  So much of the focus is placed on tricks, tools and tactics that focus on the mechanics of social media- they generally scratch the surface because they fail to combine the tools with strategy.

Give an attorney, or any other professional for that matter, intimate knowledge of how to blog, tweet and participate in LinkedIN groups and they may be no better off than without this knowledge.  The skills and knowledge are useless without an effective strategy. Read more

What’s Wrong With Your Law Firm Bio

(As originally posted by Above the Law October 2, 2010)

Don’t take it personally. Nobody is perfect, but unfortunately, when it comes to law firm bios — well, most of them stink. They tout the vast accomplishments of the lawyer: where they went to law school, if they graduated with honors, whether they were on law review. Then they often include a laundry list of each and every type of legal matter the attorney has ever dealt with in their life. The main problem is, attorney bios are often created with very little thought into strategy. This is unfortunate, especially considering how important bios are.

Your bio matters to decision makers. Ninety percent of general counsel claim the attorney bios are the most important part of a law firm’s website (2009 Wicker Park Group). Studies have also shown that bios are the most viewed pages on law firm websites, generating over 50% of the page views. If a good bio can help you land one more client this next year, what would that be worth to you? What about five new clients? Perhaps your bio deserves a little more attention than you are giving it. Read more

ABA Survey: lawyers profiting from web 2.0

(As originally posted by Above the Law September 30, 2010)

Almost two years ago, I joined Twitter to help find a publisher for a book I was writing. A couple weeks later, a friend I followed on Twitter asked, “Does anybody know a contracts lawyer?” I responded and won a new client. A lawyer winning business on Twitter was somewhat unusual at that time, but it isn’t anymore. In the 2010 ABA Technology Survey Report, 10% of respondents “had a client retain their legal services as a result of use of online communities/social networking.” While 10% may seem small, it represents a dramatic shift in law firm attitudes towards social media.

So how are the successful attorneys doing it? By personally maintaining a presence online: 56% of attorneys reported having a presence in 2010, up from just 43% in 2009 and 15% in 2008. (In 2008, the social networks mentioned in the survey were Facebook, Second Life and LawLink — so times have changed a bit.) Bottom line is, there has been a clear shift over the last three years. Take a look at the classic innovation curve: Read more

Have law blogs failed to live up to expectations?

(As originally posted on Above the Law September 23, 2010)

The secret to happiness in life is setting low expectations.”
– My Uncle Lyman

Over the past few weeks, in the comments to my ATL posts, there have been a number of questions about whether or not large law firms are bringing in real clients through their law blogs. While we have seen some instances of big wins that have come as a direct result of law blogs, these have been rare. What about the average law blogs? Have blogs lived up to the expectations of Biglaw firms?

My inquiry began by looking at all the law blogs of the Am Law 100 firms. Click here to see the full list. As you can see from the chart, the majority of the law blogs come from just a few firms. In fact, 5 percent of the firms account for 49 percent of the total law blogs of the Am Law 100. Read more

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